Ontario high schools face administrative nightmare due to teacher action
It’s official; no deal for the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation means teachers have been directed to limit their duties to the bare minimum.
While lack of extracurricular activities for students is at the forefront of the ongoing labour dispute, school administrators could have a tough time when it comes to report cards.
In a note to CTV, one Ottawa high school principal blew the whistle on teachers saying “OSSTF directed teachers not to put marks in the system” even though they’ve had time to do so before officially taking action Monday.
A spokesperson for the union says marks will be handed in on time but in paper form. Teachers have, in fact, been directed not to submit grades through the computer. It means report cards could be delayed as entering that data may become the duty of principals and vice-principals.
The union says selective job action is not about making student life difficult, but rather making things tough for school administrators.
In any case, students feel caught in the middle.
“We don’t have our fun times at lunch – like no basketball, nothing like that – the gym’s closed,” says high school student Jordan Andrews.
With nothing to do and no supervision, some students say that only adds up to one thing: trouble.
“Kids are probably going to want to start trouble; but what’s somebody going to do about it?” asks student Savannah De Groot.
Strike action also includes:
- No longer supervising activities after school
- No longer attending staff meetings
- No longer communicating with parents after hours
It could even impact how standardized testing, required by the province, is administered. If this drags on until the new year, teachers say they won’t be the ones to give the grade nines their standardized math test in January.
Disruption to student life could go beyond action taken by teachers. Custodial staff say they will not work extra hours and will not replace those workers who call in sick.
“Our benchmark is student safety; that’s our bottom line. We’ll be working very closely with our principals, monitoring on a daily basis,” says Jennifer Adams of the Ottawa Carleton District School Board.
School board officials are warning, schools could close if they determine student safety is at risk.
“We’ll be looking at our ability to appropriately supervise them, our ability to keep our schools clean and safe. Those will be the things we’ll be watching,” says Adams.
For now, high schools will feel the brunt of teacher action. However, it could trickle down to elementary schools. Educational assistants are part of the striking union; and that could mean limiting the number of kids that can play on the schoolyard at a given time.
While many parents fear the situation could get worse, it would be illegal for teachers to walk off the job.
The OSSTF is one of several unions upset over Bill 115, a law passed in September that places a two-year wage freeze on veteran teachers and limits the ability to bank sick days. The law also targets collective bargaining rights, giving the province the power to ban lockouts and strikes.
With a report from CTV Ottawa's John Hua